you, the columnist
By Dave Lieber
Dallas Morning News columnist
It’s New Year’s Eve. I’m feeling good. Not because of the spirits but because I’ve had a wonderful year. One of my best ever at a newspaper.
Hey, that last column I wrote. Wow. Loved it. Who wouldn’t? I wonder if it got any public comments on the bottom. Haven’t checked in a few hours.
Oh, hey look. A new one. Guy named Rick. What does he say?
“WADR,” he begins.
OK, what does that mean? Let me look it up on an Internet slang website — either Weighted Average Deposit Rate or With All Due Respect.
“Watchdog, maybe after 40 years you deserve a break from the routine,” Rick writes.
Can’t argue there. Everyone needs a break. Having mine on New Year’s Eve.
“I am noticing a lack of energy on your part about going after companies and agencies.”
He notices that? Geez. It’s the end of the year, and I’m a little winded at the end of a long race. Trying to pace myself. Hoped nobody notices. But Rick has. He’s calling me out.
“What I have seen is you pushing back on requests by listing the company or agency where the consumer can help themselves.”
True. That’s my philosophy. Show people how easy it is to fight for themselves. Guess Rick doesn’t like that part.
“Not much of a Watchdog, I’m afraid.”
Usually, someone might say that when I decline to take up their cause.
“If you no longer have the energy and the drive to be able to ferret out a solution, then there are many professions for you,” Rick continues.
Funny, he believes that. I can’t think of one. But go on, Rick.
“I know that I wouldn’t want your job,” he concludes, “but it appears to me that you don’t want it either.”
First, I admire Rick’s rhythmic sentences. Rick is a good writer. Second, ouch — and on New Year’s Eve! But let me consider his point.
Who writes a regular column who doesn’t worry about maintaining energy and drive? That’s a constant fear for you, the columnist.
Big Bob Hill of Louisville taught us that columnists are lucky to bat .300. He meant that three great columns out of every 10 is a realistic goal. I hit .300 this year. Yet Rick is calling me out on the many I muffed.
How can I turn this around? Use Rick’s harsh words on New Year’s Eve to work to get better in 2015. How could I bat .400?
- Don’t slough off making extra calls to sources. Extra calls yield extra results.
- Be original. Always look for a way to zig when everyone else zags.
- Work to demonstrate energy and drive in every piece written by taking risks and being transparent.
- Go places I’m not supposed to go.
Thanks, Rick. WADR, good thing you showed up when you did.
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Dave Lieber is The Watchdog investigative columnist for The Dallas Morning News. Check out his latest stuff at dallasnews.com/watchdog.